Give me a reason to celebrate Gary and I will give you a menu that will satisfy even the most critical palates. That occasion came Saturday with his birthday, and in addition to Thai butternut squash soup, creamy polenta with fresh pesto and a huge chopped salad with homemade blue cheese dressing and lots of bacon, I made a tray of these little beauties for appetizers.
Bacon candy is always a hit, and really quite easy to prepare. The figs are a bit more labor intensive, but worth is as the sweetness, salty and savory elements come together in a perfect little bite. You can also use dates, but for have them pre-pitted just for timing. You can also wrap the fig in bacon instead of prosciutto, but then the bacon will have to cook all the way through, so adjust your timing accordingly. Since prosciutto is cured and cooked when you buy it all it needs to do is crisp a touch and the bites will be ready. Serve with cocktails or a smoky Syrah.
Prosciutto Wrapped Figs and Bacon Candy
1 pound dried mission black figs, stem removed and if very large, cut in half
1 pound fresh figs, stem removed and cut in half (if they are in season)
8 ounces crumbled blue cheese
10 slices shaved prosciutto, cut in half diagonally and horizontally
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Using a small spoon scoop a bit of blue cheese onto each piece of fig. Carefully wrap each fig in 1 slice of the cut prosciutto, creating a little purse almost. Place on a baking sheet. When all are wrapped and on the sheet sprinkle with a bit of crushed black pepper and bake for 10 minutes, until the cheese is melted and prosciutto is crisp. Place on a serving tray and drizzle lightly with honey.
12 slices of thick sliced applewood smoked bacon, cut in half (it is the best, if applewood is not available find the highest quality bacon you can find since it is really the main ingredient in this delicious bite of love)
1/2 cup dark brown sugar (the molasses in dark brown sugar adds an additional depth of flavor)
1/2 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon ancho chile pepper
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
Lay the bacon slices on a foil lined baking sheet. Mix the sugar and spice together then generously coat each slice of bacon, pressing the mixture into each piece and distributing evenly. Place in the oven and bake for 15-18 minutes or until very crispy and toasted, rotating the baking sheet once during cooking. Remove from the oven and using a pair of tongs carefully remove each slice and lay on a baking rack (on top of another baking sheet in case the pieces drip a bit) and let cool completely. They will crisp a bit more as they cool.